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tv   Meet the Press  NBC  September 4, 2011 10:00am-11:00am EDT

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this sunday, the white house predicts high unemployment through next year's election. on this labor day weekend, the jobless rate stands at 9.1%. new numbers showing zero job growth for august as companies are still slow to hire and a slow housing market prevents recovery. the prident prepares to speak to congress and the nation about what the government can do to get people back to work, but what are the prospects of washington acting during a fierce ideological fight over the economy? political paralysis is just one of the factors holding america back and raising new fears that our country is in decline.
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this morning, a special discussion featuring "the new york times" columnist thomas friedman, co-author of the new book "that used to be us: how america fell behind in the world it invented and how we can come back." plus, previewing the political battles ahead in the 2012 campaign as republicans prepare to square off for the first debate that will include the new force in the republican field, texas governor rick perry. also with us this morning, historian and author doris kearns goodwin, the "wall street journal's" paul gigot, democratic congresswoman from los angeles, maxine waters, and political strategist mark mckinnon. then, as the nation prepares to mark ten years since the 9/11 attacks, army captain and veteran of iraq and afghanistan, joseph kearns goodwin joins his mother doris to discuss how that day changed his life and how the attacks define his generation.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. labor day weekend marks the unfortunate end of summer and kicks off an intense, high-stakes political season. and if there is a headline that underscores what this campaign is all about, it's saturday's lead news in "the new york times" -- "zero job growth latest bleak sign for the u.s. economy." this morning, as we near the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, america is taking stock of what the decade meant and what challenges the country now faces. the president this week will yet again try to focus attention on jobs as the economy is stuck in slow growth. this week, america was reminded of what's wrong with washington -- a short-lived, but intense back-and-forth over when the president should address a joint session of congress and the american people. in the end, it will be thursday
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at 7:00, avoiding a conflict with republicans who on wednesday will debate about how and who should try to replace the president. >> the side shows don't matter, the economy matters. >> it does, and it's not getting better. the question is how likely is it that congress will pass an obama jobs package that includes more spending or investment in the economy? you remember the debt ceiling debate. >> we have to create more jobs and we have to do it fast. and most of all, we've got to break the gridlock in washington that's been preventing us from taking the action we need to get this country moving. >> gridlock happens when there's an election, and next november is coming faster than you may like. this is a week for serious jockeying in the race. is sarah palin in or out? she dangled the prospect of a candidacy in iowa this weekend. >> the challenge is not simply to replace obama in 2012, but the real challenge is who and
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what we will replace him with. >> mitt romney now trailing texas governor rick perry in the polls will no doubt use this wednesday's nbc news slit co-po debate to begin a new line of tack. >> i spent most of my life outside politics dealing with real problems in the real economy. career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don't know how to get us out. >> republicans and democrats are having the debate. the question is, as a nation, are we having the right conversation about the best way forward? that's what we're going to attempt right here this morning. joining me now, editorial page editor of the "wall street journal" paul gigot, presidential historian doris kearns goodwin, democratic congresswoman from los angeles maxine waters, and co-author of the new book "that used to be us: how america fell behind in the world it invented and how we can come back," tom friedman, as well as former adviser to presidents george w. bush and john mccain as well as co-founder of no labels, an
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organization dedicated to putting party labels aside and politics, mark mckinnon. welcome to all of you. happy end of summer. that's what this means, as i said, and the challenges that await us as we get into fall are pretty steep. here's the context of the debate we're having in politics and in the economy. the unemployment numbers that came out in august have kept unemployment at 9.1% and no job growth in august, a pretty bleak headline. and these are the projections that the white house has released, keeping unemployment at 9% through the election year. they project it comes down to 7.8% by 2014. something caught my eye this weekend. howard rosen from the peterson institute of international economics in "the new york times" yesterday, he said "this is not just a jobless recovery, it's a recovery-less recovery." tom friedman, the book is "that used to be us." it talks about what's holding america back. it talks about fears of
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america's decline. with that backdrop, what is the major point in the framing of this book? >> well, david, what i and my co-author michael mandelbaum from johns hopkins are basically arguing is we've got good news and bad news. the bad news is this problem didn't start in 2008 with the subprime crisis. this problem, in our view, started at the end of the cold war. the good news is, though, there is a way out if we understand exactly where we are. i think four big points, basically. first of all, we made the worst mistake a country or species can make at the end of the cold war -- we misread our environment. we interpreted the victory in the cold war -- or the end of the cold war as a victory, and not understanding it was actually the onset of one of the biggest challenges we've ever faced as a country. we've just unleashed 2 billion people just like us. but the nazis turned out to be quite a party, thanks to the peace dividend, thanks to the mass productivity boost of the internet, and thanks most importantly in many ways to the
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collapse in oil prices, which was like a huge tax cut. then it brings us into the early 21st century. really, the '90s was like a victory parade for the united states. starting with 9/11, tragically, 9/11 started us on a really bad course. we spent the last decade in many ways necessarily, in many ways excessively, chasing the losers from globalization rather than the winners. and we made up for a lot of the injecting ourselves with steroids, just as baseball players did it to hit home runs. we injected ourselves with credit steroids for the housing boom and to create jobs. the third is a technological change. the grid of the world, basically, the number of people who can compete, connect and collaborate exploded in the last decade. you know, i wrote a book in 2004 called "the world is flat," which was about this connecting of the world. we've gone from connected to hyperconnected in terms of the people who are now competing with us and connecting with us. when we sat down to write this
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book, i went back to "the world is flat." i looked in the index and i realized that facebook wasn't in it. when i said "the world is flat," facebook didn't exist -- or for most people didn't exist, twitter was a sound, the cloud was in the sky, 4g was a parking place, applications was what you sent to college. that all happened in just the last seven years. and what it's done is taken the world from connected to hyper connected. and that's been a huge opportunity and a huge challenge. lastly, i just say one thing. all of this is overlaid and i'm interested in doris's view in this in particular, with a generational shift. we went from the greatest generation, whose philosophy was basically save and invest, and we're still living off their saving and investing, to basically the baby boomer generation, whose philosophy turned out to be borrow and spend. and we've really shifted from a generation born in the depression, world war ii and the cold war -- these were serious people. they wouldn't think of shutting
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down the government for a minute, okay? to a generation, basically, that is much less serious. we've gone from basically the values of the greatest generation, which were what my philosopher friend dove sign beyond calls sustainable values, to a baby boomer generation whose values are situational value, do what the situation allows. you put them together and you account for a lot of the hole we're in right now structurally. >> that's the big picture, which we'll unpack a little bit. paul, as you go to the immediate-term, which is, again, this background, not just what got us here, but the fact that we're facing persistent unemployment, and it's not just about the jobs, it's the fact that the economy's not growing. and we're going to hear from the president this week. what is he possibly going to say? what is it that government can possibly do? >> i think the president has to decide whether he wants an election issue or whether he wants to get something done. if he wants an election issue, he'll go big. some of his liberal colleagues are talking about, friends are
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talking about, saying we'll go fdr all over again, we'll go with a big, new jobs program financed by government, we'll go with more regulation. i think that's going to be a recipe for gridlock coming for the rest of the year. it will certainly set up a framework for the election debate. but if he wants to get something done, i think he can confound the republicans in part, by going for a big tax reform, saying we're going to -- you want tax cuts? okay, we'll reduce the rate. let's get rid of the credits and other things to help pay for that, and that will -- i don't know what they do. i think they'd be back on their heels and say, whoa, this changes the debate in a way that we hadn't expected. we're going to plan a run against washington. he's now argueing on our turf. i think that's the fundamental choice the president has to make. i don't know which way he'll go, but if he wants to change the debate, that's the direction i'd go in. >> we've been talking, as we get closer to labor day, congress man waters, labor day being
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tomorrow, we talked to president huff of the teamsters about the american worker and what he would like to see from the president this week. it's part of our "press pass" conversation that's available online. i'll play a portion here. >> i think we've got to start getting big business to start hiring people. he's got to have a plan that's bold and that hires people. maybe we need to put people to work hiring some of the unemployed and put them to work basically rebuilding america. >> is this possible? this is what paul was just talking about. you're in congress, you saw the debt debate. do you think that's really going to happen now? >> i absolutely agree, but the president must be bold. i agree that he must have a jobs program, must create jobs. i'm talking about a program of $1 trillion or more. we've got to put americans to work. that's the only way to revitalize this economy. when people work and they earn money, they spend that money, and that is what gets the economy up and going.
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i don't think you can shrink our problem with the threats of the right. i don't think you can have a program that simply gives more tax breaks to the very people who got us in this trouble in the first place. and so, i'm hopeful, i'm very hopeful that the president is going to put a big program out there and that he's going to fight very hard for it. >> mark mckinnon? >> well, the problem, david, is not just our economy, but it's our politics. and bill mcinturff, who is a great pollster, did an amazing study this weekend that's sort of jaw-dropping. the consumer confidence index has dropped 15 points in the last two months and it's a result of the way the debt ceiling debate was handled, not just the outcome itself, but the debate and the nature of the debate, and that's what i'm talking about in no labels. it's the politics and the way it's handled in this country that's creating a breakdown in confidence not just in the economy, but in the elected officials to handle what's happening. we talk about unemployment, but the consumer confidence index is a key barometer.
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it's interesting to note that an average, for incumbent presidents, an average when they win, the consumer confidence index is 95.9%. when they lose, it's 78.4%. the consumer confidence index today is 55.7%. >> it's interesting you talk about that, also faith in leadership. doris, this is a cartoon that we like this week from jimmy margulies from "the record" of hackensack, new jersey. of course, the president is visiting flood victims today. he's in a boat because of the flood zone with a copy of the polls in his hand, and he says "i remember when i could walk on this water," which really symbolizes the fact that this was great expectations, and now there's a great amount of disappointment in the president, not just on the right, of course, but among his core supporters. >> i hope he's got enough sense of self to be able to save those cartoons. teddy roosevelt loved all of the terrible cartoons about him, put them all up on his wall. but i think the key thing right now, to pick up on what mark said, it's a political crisis as well as an economic crisis we're
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facing, and he has to somehow in his speech be able to persuade people that government can do something about it. we've lost confidence that government knows what to do. so, i think he confounds the republicans in two ways. what you said, i think he goes for tax reform, somehow, and figures out how to pay for a big, bold jobs program. every republican has said job creation, that's what we want. tell them, if that's what you want, i'm going to give you specific things that you can do and challenge them to do it. and that's what harry truman did in 1948. the republicans are saying all the right things -- we're going to deal with the housing crisis, we're going to deal with inflation, with education. so, he called them back in a special session and called it the turnip session, from missouri. they did nothing. then he was able to say why didn't you do anything? you're a do-nothing crisis. if you're going to deal with job creation, he has to be clear about what to visual. you can't just lift infrastructure back, you have to explain how it will work and challenge them to do it and find a way to pay for it. that's what he did before he was
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screwed up in the debt crisis. he had a bold plan that was balanced by tax increases and people loved it. >> isn't a big part of this debate, and paul, it's embedded in tom's book, is the role of government, the debate about the role of government? >> sure. >> you know, historically, you had great public-private partnerships. now the notion of government being the last actor to try to create demand in the economy seems enathnama to a new generation of conservatives, and i say the new generations, the outgrowth of the past decade who says no lie, we've done enough of that as government. is there any way to get that back? >> i think that's the fundamental dispute here. the problem with what doris is suggesting on the spending side is the stimulus, the $1 trillion or so stimulus, $900 billion, is perceived to have not created any jobs. so it's going to be a very hard sell to try to get republicans in particular to agree to more spending, particularly with the debt figures what they are. the other problem is the general, broad mistrust of government. i mean, the gallup survey out, i
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think this last week, showed the approval rating for government was below oil and gas companies. probably even below journalists, which is very hard to believe. and so, that 17% approval rating, the country is saying we don't think government can create the jobs. we have to give incentives to the private sector, which is what we did in the '80s and the '90s, to grow again. >> tom, you wrote a lot about this. >> again, i don't know about the media. michael and i in the book really focused on the longer-term trend. and what we did was interview four major employers, one of whom is actually the new chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general martin dempsey. we interviewed him when he was head of the army education corps, which is just very recently. and here's what employers will tell you, david. they'll tell you that they're all looking for the same kind of employee now, someone who can do critical reasoning and thinking, dot, dot, dot, in order to get an interview. that's not table steaks. what they're actually looking
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for are people who can adapt, invent and reinvent the job. because in this hyper connected world, changes have to be so fast. there are companies now in silicon valley that do quarterly employer reviews now because their product cycle's changing so fast. you can't wait until the end of the year to find out you have a bad team manager. now, that's got to work back toward education. what we argue in the book, basically, going forward is that there are really two kind of countries in the world, hies and lies, high and low imagination-enabling countries. forget developed and developing. why is that? it's like a spark of idea, they're giving you cheap chinese firefighter and they can jump to for fulfillment and delivery, go to craigslist and get an accountant. they're all commodities now. what isn't a commodity is this. and the countries actually that are thriving today -- look at israel. start-up nation. we're not going to bail around in this crisis, we're not going to stimulate our way out of this
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crisis. we're only going to educate ultimately and imagine and invent our way out of this. >> congresswoman waters, on the topic of education, look inside the unemployment numbers, as we did for august, and this is what you find. if you have less than a high school degree, the unemployment rate is 14.3%, high school 9.6%, but if you have a bachelors or higher, it's 4.3%, about half. >> yes. >> of what the national average is. we always pay lip service to the fact that education is the top issue. it's not ultimately what becomes the top issue when you get into the voting booth, however. >> absolutely not. to tell you the truth, the plight of education in this country is shameful. just a few days ago, i learned that more cities, more states are reducing the number of education days down to four instead of five, and i could not help but stop and think, is this
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america? is this the country that said and continues to say that education is its top priority? why are we not investing more in education? why do we have dropouts? why do we have educational systems that are failing? why is it that we have a situation where many of our young people will not be able to compete in this high-technological society because they're not properly educated? and so, we do pay lip service to education. we don't really invest in it, and that's got to change. but let me just say this, americans want to work. this joblessness is not only hitting the middle class, but it is hitting all classes. it is absolutely unconscionable what is happening in the minority community. when we look at this no jobs having been created in august and we find that in the
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african-american community it has increased from 16% up now 16.7%, and now we're going to talk about cutting government by $1.5 trillion, this new 12-committee membership we have after the raising the debt ceiling debate? and that means that we're going to lose more jobs, that means more people are going to be unemployed. the african-american rate will probably go up to 20%. i don't know how our country can sustain that kind of -- >> but this is the issue, mark mckinnon. whether you are more of a centrist or you're a conservative, i mean, there is a different level of faith in government to usher in the kind of change that the congresswoman is talking about, for government to do what government did in fdr's time. >> no question. and what people believe is that we need big, bold changes, and what i'm worried about is that we're nibbling around the edges and people tend to disconnect
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the jobs discussion from some of the bigger issues like entitlement reform, and i think they're connected. and my biggest criticism of the president is that he had two fiscal commissions over a year ago that he could have embraced and taken on some of these big challenges, and had we done that, i think we'd be having a different discussion today. >> there is something, doris, in tom's book about risk-taking. what is the big risk that president obama should be willing to take and what is he actually willing to take? >> well, i think he has to show that he's willing to take a risk. i think what we need now is strength in washington, strength coming from him. one of the sad things about this whole thing about whether he should give it on wednesday or thursday night was once again giving in to the congress when he has to challenge them. i don't think he has anything to lose by going for broke, going for -- he's got to make people believe in government. government is not only washington, government are our teachers, government are the people that you want to be out there, they're the policemen. he's got to remind us that we collectively are government. what does it mean during "the new deal"? we worked together to solve our country's problems.
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what did we do during world war ii? the country came together in a public-private partnership. we produced ships, tanks and weapons that were the miracle of the world and it was the best government partner and labor partnership in our country.n,ut somehow made government out there and here we are. and the people who run for politics now hate government. what's the be a politician if you hate government? it doesn't make any sense to me! >> conservatives are unabashed about that point saying we've had too much government, it's not the answer, it's part of the problem, you know, getting in touch with their inner ronald reagan and reviving that and refreshing it. tom, what you have not seen are, i mean, liberals like the congresswoman here have embraced government and the role of government, but from the president, an unwillingness to really stand up and say, hey, i put my hand up for government because government is actually part of the answer here. >> yeah, just to pick up on doris's point, and this is really the core argument of michael and my book, which is we didn't get here by accident as a
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great country. we won in every historical term. how did we win in every historical turn? because we had a formula for success that you can actually date back to hamilton, but you certainly see it in lincoln it was five pillars -- basically, educate our people up to and beyond the technology, whether the cotton gin or the super computer. integration. attract the world's most talented people. infrastructure, have the greatest infrastructure, and have rules for risk-taking and preventing recklessness. and last, government-funded research. put those together, stir, bake for 200 years and you get the united states of america. now, if you take all five of those, david, and you look at the last decade, which we call the terrible twos, possibly one of the worst, if not the worst decade in american history, education, boop, infrastructure, boop, immigration, boop, rules for capital investigating -- how'd you like that subprime crisis? >> research and development. >> research and development.
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all five of our pillars of success have been weakening. that's the underlying thing here. and that's what we've got to be looking at. that's what the president's got to be out there defending. >> in the speech about the pillars, one of the best speeches he made a year and a half ago was about the need to restore those pillars, but the bully pulpit just doesn't have its bullines anymore. >> i did all of this on my own. you didn't do squat on your own, okay? you did it thanks to the greatest public-private partnership working together in the right balance. >> it's not just about policies that create growth or investment, because growth is where the jobs come from, and that's the debate, what creates growth. >> the irony is over the last 30 or 40 years is the prestige of government has collapsed most rapidly when government has tried to do much more and do far more than it's capable of doing. government prestige increased under ronald reagan, the great supposed enemy of government, because he showed when you focused on a couple things and did it well and got the economy growing that people said, you
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know what, they're competent. it's working. >> confidence. confidence and competent, i think that is a huge issue. i think the issue for president bush was not just katrina, but it was how the iraq war turned out. i thought people were not opposed to the iraq war, they were opposed to failure. they do not like when things don't go well. if it had gone well, it would have been a completely different reaction. i want to talk about politics because tom talks about the political system and its failings. we'll be back with our panel and also talk about the big political week ahead after this. we know why we're here. to chart a greener path in the air and in our factories. ♪ to find cleaner, more efficient ways to power flight. ♪ and harness our technology for new energy solutions. [ female announcer ] around the globe,
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coming up, what are the hot legal stories trending this very morning? we'll be back with more from our roundtable after this brief commercial break. network. a living, breathing intelligence that is helping business rethink how to do business. in here, inventory can be taught to learn. ♪ in here, machines have a voice... ♪ [ male announcer ] in here, medical history follows you... even when you're away from home. it's the at&t network -- a network of possibilities, creating and integrating solutions, helping business, and the rethink possible.
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we're back now with more of our roundtable. big political week ahead. this is labor day weekend, kicking off the marathon that is the presidential race. let's look at our week ahead. romney's got a tea party rallyt party rally in columbia, south carolina, tomorrow as well. we've got a new poll coming out on tuesday. wednesday is what i really wanted to flag. it's the nbc news/politico debate at the reagan library, 8:00 p.m. eastern. that's going to be a big event, principally because it will be texas governor rick perry's first debate, and we'll be
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watching that very closely. and speaking of governor perry, he was asked this weekend by a 9-year-old who his favorite superhero was, and here we're talking about how to get the country back on track, what's holding america back, fears of america's decline. this is a conversation that's happening, in some ways, on the campaign trail. so, again, here's a 9-year-old who asked perry about his favorite superhero and here's what he said. >> i'm going to show you my age a little bit, because i don't know any of the current superheroes, but there was one back in my day called superman, and superman came to save the united states. >> it inspired a little bit of laughter, but the serious point in all of that is that this is really the framing of his candidacy. >> yeah. >> which is, america is off on the wrong track and you need, basically, waiting for superman, like the film about education, is that what this political campaign is about and is perry superman? >> well, he's going to contrast the record in washington over the last decade with the record in texas over the last decade,
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particularly in job creation, and it's a very different and very good message for perry to make because they have created jobs, they have done a lot of the things that we say we want to do in washington and haven't. that's his big, big strength. also, he has the best line of the campaign, where he says, so far i think for the republicans, which is, i'm going to get up every day and try to make washington as inconsequential in your lives as i can, and that's a message that resonates with republican primary voters. now, this is a big challenge for him wednesday, though, because the question is, with all of that behind him, he has rocketed up in public attention. now, does he have the staying power to do that or is he going to make mistakes that knock him back down? >> mark mckinnon, you framed this fight on the republican side as only you can do, with "happy days" references. for those who might be, you know, under 30 watching right now, that was a fairly successful television program. how do you see perry versus romney? >> well, i see it as a race between arthur fonz rellie and
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ritchie cunningham, and i think we remember who ritchie cunningham is. perry has taken off because he is giving voice to the anger and the heat in the republican primary, that anti-washington sentiment. he has honed that down to a fine art, and he's got the jobs story. he's created -- there's been more private sector jobs created in texas in the last ten years than the entire country combined. so, he's got a compelling message. now, he's getting up on the big stage this week and he's never been in the national debate, never been in this debate before. he's had nine elections in texas. he's a great campaigner, but this is going to be a big moment, a lot of people's first look. big stage, a lot on the line. >> go ahead. >> as i understand it, the majority of the jobs that were created were government jobs in texas, and i think we have to get -- >> private sector, though, more private sector jobs. >> we've got to get the exact information about where these jobs came from. >> i think, right, that will be better over time. let's look at the lineup in terms of how the field looks right now according to quinnipiac, and you do have
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perry on top followed by romney and sarah palin, which gets to our "trend tracker" right now, tracking the hot political stories. and you may not be surprised when you look at the tracker that it's sarah palin, still the question, as she was in iowa over the weekend and dropping hints and making speeches. will she run, tom friedman? there's still a great deal of interest in sarah palin as this political force in the middle of this huge conversation we're trying to have. >> well, first, it's not a sign of the apocalypse, you know, because this woman, everything i hear from her has nothing to do with what we argue in our book, the long-term trends of where our country's at. there's no short-term solution, not just getting rid of obama. what strikes me about this moment, david, is we're in an economic crisis and the politicians have having an election and there's like no overlap between the two, almost? these two circle? one of my favorite quotes in researching this, went into singapore. singapore's on the edge, economists there said we're in a
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thatch hut with no doors and no windows. we feel every change of breeze, every change of temperature, and we have to adjust. you americans, you live in a brick house with central heating. you can sort of feel nothing. so, where are we starting the conversation in the country right now? are we starting the conversation where we should start it? what world are we living in? what are the big changes in the world? here's a change, i just saw mark mckinnon read his notes off an iphone being captured by a robotic camera. ten years ago, a secretary drew up the notes and three people were operating that camera. those jobs are gone and they're not coming back. how do we adapt to that world? that's the question. >> in a scary time like this, what's interesting, though, is somebody like perry, even though he might not appeal to the independents easily, as much as romney might not eventually, because some of his stands, saying social security is unconstitutional, the income tax is bad, we go back to the senators being elected by legislators, where you could buy your way into the senate. but on the other hand, the strength, confidence, the jazziness, the swagger he shows
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is sometimes what people care about even more than identity of issues when they're in tough times. so, it means not looking at where a person's going to bring us, but the fact that this guy loves campaigning and he's got strength. but then, the interesting thing is that romney does beat him, it will make romney much stronger than if he had coasted as a candidate, because he'll have to show, and then he'll look more moderate in comparison to mr. perry. >> i want to ask you, one of the things, you talk to people around the country and they're frankly disgusted with washington. >> that's right. >> they want more compromise. >> that's right. >> then there's people, yourself and others, who say out of the president we want to see more fight. >> yes. >> and it's the extremity in language, it's the intensity of fight. and you have an example of this as well. >> sure. >> going back to this august, you said the following when you were out in englewood in your district, about the tea party, and i want to play it. >> as far as i'm concerned, the tea party can go straight to hell. and i intend to help them get there. >> now, it's an applause line, but obviously, congresswoman, is
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that really how you win the debate? >> let me say this, americans are angry and they're angry at politicians and government because they feel as if their government really does not care enough about them and their plight. they want jobs. the congressional black caucus went to five cities during our break, and some of the information that we gained basically helped us to understand there's desperation, there's hopelessness, and people think that they have to bail out the big banks and these financial institutions, and they're getting nothing for it. and one thing they're really angry about is the fact that these call centers are offshore, where, for example, you had at&t said, well, if you give me my merger, i'll bring my call centers back. and they feel as if the call centers should be brought back, that we should make it too expensive for our companies, our businesses to take these jobs offshore.
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they want the jobs and they wan fighting the last war. you know, times have changed. there's populism on the right, paul, and there's populism on the left. that's what's feeling the tea party, but that's not necessarily getting us to a place of solutions. >> in the end, this is an election that will be settled on big ideas, which is where the country is in 2012. if president obama is re-elected, his economic policies will have been validated and he will be able to continue in that direction. if, however, they are repudia repudiated, i think you'll see us move in a direction not unlike the kind of watershed election of 1980, where ronald reagan said i have a different idea and i want to go in a different direction, and we'll give that a try. yes, there will be agreements in the middle, but ultimately, that's what we do in elections, we set a direction. we've had a direction now for 30 months. the public is saying we're not satisfied with that direction, we're going to have a referendum on those policies. that's what we do in politics in this country. >> right, but mark mckinnon, you've become a no labels guy, after working for republican
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candidates or republican president and governor bush. how do we somehow change incentives in campaigns so the kind of risk-taking that all of us around the table seem to agree is a good idea in public policy and in politics, actually gets rewarded instead of penalized? >> well, that's exactly why no labels was launched in december and we have 300,000 members strong now, and we hear from americans across the country saying we want everybody at the table, everything on the table. politics is a market, and that market is a majority out there. they've just been quiet. in recent years, because of everything that was happening, the response was simply to throw their hands up and say we don't care, but now the stakes are too high and they're engaging, and i think there's going to be a huge response from the middle of america. and what they want is the parties working together. they want everybody at the table, everything on the table, and they know it will take big, bold solutions and everybody's going to have to sacrifice. >> it's interesting, doris, one of the applause lines that mitt romney had that we played earlier was the idea that we got
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a lot of government lifers, a lot of people who have been in government a long time. they're not necessarily ones to lead us out of this mess, because the sparks, this is not something you said, but this is something you did, but it's the communication -- we know what this mean -- is going on, not in government, unfortunately, because the penalties are just too high for that sort of spark creation. that seems to be a factor. >> i mean, i think there's something to that. there's something about a bureaucratic mentality, when you've been in these big buildings in washington for a long period of time, you've got tons of regulations going on top of you, that you can't think imaginatively, but we have to remember, government is not just that. government, as i said today, is people working together collectively to put their talents to use with private energy, with the labor union, and together, those threesomes doing something. you can't take government out of the picture because government is collective will of us. if you want to go back to the rugged individuals and the robber baron of the 19th century, that was great, government was nothing and we were terrible back then. >> tom, you advocate a third
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party. mayor michael bloomberg in new york has said on this program no way, no how is that going to happen. he would be among the strongest contenders to try to carry that off. >> well, it does seem to me that we do need a shock. like the shock therapy we administered to the soviet union at the end of the cold war. the system needs a shock. i agree with paul, i hope the next election will be on a big idea, but i hope it's not just big government versus small government. i hope it's our formula for success and getting back to it. people come to michael and me say does your book have a happy ending? and we tell everyone, it does have a happy ending. we just don't know it's fiction or nonfiction. that really depends on us. but what makes me optimistic is that this country is still full of people who just didn't get the word, and they are starting things and inventing things and creating things and organizing things. if you want to be an optimist about america, stand on your head. you look at this country from the bottom up, you see the potential. we're like the space shuttle, all that thrust coming from below, but right now, the booster rocket, washington, d.c., is cracked and leaking
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energy, and the pilots in the cockpit are fighting over the flight plan, so we can't achieve the escape velocity we need now to get to the next level. you fix those two things, we take off. my favorite quote in this book is -- >> before we get to the next level, we've got to recognize that there are big problems in this country, foreclosures. the banks will not do loan modifications and we have not come up with a program with which we can keep people in their homes. we need to be bold enough for the president to say to the bankers, you come into this office, we're going to talk about how we're going to write down principals, how we're going to keep people in these homes, how we're going to make sure the interest rates are no more than 4%. people want to hear the answers about how they're going to have just a decent quality of life. >> your question to tom, something he's written about. there's going to be an effort on all 50 states, ballot access for
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an alternative nominating convention in all 50 states next year. so, there's some things going on out there. it's called americans elect. so, there will be an alternative nominating process. so, there's frustration out there and people are tired with the system the way it is. they're working within the system at no labels, but there are things happening outside of the system as well. >> all right, we'll leave it there. thank you all very much. this morning, before we take a break, here's a programming note. for more on tom friedman's book "that used to be us: how america fell behind in the world it invented and how we can come back," you can watch his live interview on the "today" program. that's tuesday morning. plus, listen to an audio excpt on our website, and coming up here, for many of the events of 9/11 led to life-changing decisions. for joseph kearns goodwin, it was a call to serve. as the nation prepares for the tenth anniversary of the attack, we'll look back at how that day affected his life, how it defined his generation. former army captai joseph kearns goodwin and his mother,
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we're back with a special discussion as we look ahead to the tenth anniversary of 9/11. joining me now, bronze star veteran of the wars in iraq and afghanistan, former army captain joseph kearns goodwin, and his mom, presidential historian doris kearns goodwin, who is back with us. welcome to both of you. this gets a lot more personal, right, doris? the big issues. well, joe, it's great to have you here. >> thank you. >> and as we talk about ten years after 9/11, i wanted to talk about what that day meant and what actually happened on that day for you and the days that followed it. >> sure. well, i was, i graduated college in the spring of '01, was getting ready to work for a political cultancy in washington, around here. and i sort of thought about going into the army but never took it seriously. then after september 11th, i noticed my world sort of
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inexorably changed, as for a lot of people. and i went to my mom and said i know what i'm doing now. and she said, yeah, you're not joining the army. but i said actually, the opposite. i signed up for what i thought was three years, but what was actually six. a lesson in reading the fine print, but that said, it turned out to be an incredible experience. >> i know you're here this morning as a veteran and also as a mere representative of so many others who served and volunteered to serve and who were already serving. >> right. >> prior to 9/11, and who were trained and ready for that moment of great consequence. but describe the emotions of that time for you and what compelled you to say i've got to do something. >> you know, it was not so much sort of anger or a sense i wanted vengeance for the people who attacked us. there was maybe an element of that, but it was more an understanding, there i was, just graduated college, i had not embarked yet on a career, and it became pretty clear on september 11th and the days that followed that some young people were going to be needed to do something somewhere. we didn't know what it was
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before afghanistan, let alone before iraq. and i had been granted almost every advantage that a free and prosperous society can give you. i went to a great public school system, a great university that i was prepared for because of that public school, i had a great family, i had a great red sox team, although in 2001 it was probably more heartache than joy. and just sort of felt that because i was ready, willing and in relatively good shape it was incumbent upon me to give something back to this great country that had given me so much. >> doris, you were on the program the week after the war in iraq started with tim, and this is the exchange you had. >> you are an historian, but your most important job is a mother. your son enlisted in the military after september 11th, 2nd lieutenant joseph kearns goodwin. what are your thoughts as a mother this morning as he finishes his flight school? >> well, he's currently in jump training, parachute training. i couldn't even go on a roller coaster, so physically, i'm in awe of what he's been through. but mentally, he feels the army has trained him as best as it could. he's been in leadership positions all along the way.
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he's met people he never would have met at harvard college or concord, massachusetts, and he's never second guessed it. so i have to respect his decision. he'll be going overseas, whether he's deployed to iraq, i don't know. >> he was ready for war and that was a brave face, mom. >> it was a graeme face, because underneath, especially once he got to iraq -- it was something, at the very beginning, i was so proud of his decision. i thought he would be part of a whole generation that were going to join and do something to help our country. and as a historian, i was thrilled for him that he would have that experience, but once iraq was there and once we started getting letters back from him from iraq, very scary kinds of things. he didn't tell us half of what was going on. then you wake up like any military family does. and every time you read something, you worry, will something happen? you obsessively look at the television, then you don't want to look at the television. i think the hardest part for me, to be honest, was not iraq. he got through that, he did well, he did incredibly well. but then he came back home, and then like so many others, he was
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called back to another tour of duty. and they came to our house, the gobbledygook from the military, i couldn't read it, i said i think you're being called back to active service in afghanistan, and i had to tell him. he was working here at nbc. but all of the ranging emotions as a mother, as a historian, in the end, i think he's seen a world he would not have otherwise seen. i am so proud of him. >> gentlemjoe, you wrote a few ago that you really didn't feel america was at war. >> right. >> as we are a decade later, where are we after 9/11? do we as a country feel less secure, do we have less faith in government? how have we changed? >> i do think, getting to your original point there was a huge missed original opportunity after 9/11. as tragic as those events were, they did really bind us together as a country for a brief period of time, and i felt that a lot of the kind of mess we find ourselves in today might have been forestalled if back then people had been asked to contribute to the effort to the country in ways that they weren't. that doesn't mean necessarily bolstering the ranks of the army. that would be great, so you don't have poor kids going back
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on a fifth and sixth tour, but during world war ii, and she probably can talk about this far better than i can, you had people that took tax increases, there were fuel rationing, kids were putting together rubber bands for the war effort. that call to service never came for us. and if we had asked people to sacrifice on september 12th, and i think they were ready, willing and able to do it, instead of putting two wars on a credit card, maybe we wouldn't have been in the mess we are now because people were ready to respond. >> this has been the defense the last decade, preventing another attack. we've been at it for ten years. we will conclude wars in afghanistan and iraq likely without much fanfare and without very clear results. this is not the end of world war ii. we've been having this conversation about the restoration of america's greatness, if there's that emotions, do you think, emotions of a country ten years later? >> i think the hardest thing in contrast to the decade after pearl harbor was when everybody participated in that decade of
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world war ii, you had everybody knew somebody who was fighting overseas. you had a manhattan project for atomic energy. you had, as you said, the rubber bands being rolled up. there was a feeling of closure when the war came to an end and a feeling of we all did it together. we've been spectators, most of the country, in this decade to the wars in iraq and afghanistan, and that was one of the things, what's so difficult. when joey's letters came home, not only did we read them to everybody because everybody in our family wanted to read them it was like primitive, going to the letters of 100 years ago. there was no e-mail in the beginning. but everybody we knew would want to hear about them because it was their one brush. because especially in our ivy league world up in boston, not many kids had joined the army then. the letters, i think, were the lifeline for him and for me. his brother michael who is 15 months older, wrote a hand-written letter to him in iraq. and i kept thinking, they were 4 and 5 years old arguing about who had more cereal in their box and now they're friends. that's all i thought, i'd be
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dead and they'd have each other. >> the images played out when osama bin laden was killed were really striking. outside of the white house, jubilation. i mean, young people, a young guy who goes to college here in washington who went down there to be part of this. at least this was an element of 9/11 that you can remember from being scared as a young person -- >> right. >> -- to now it becoming some element of closure there, these scenes playing out at ohio state university. >> yeah, no, they're pretty spectacular, and i think you're right. for my generation at the close of the cold war, there was that ten-year period where there was maybe a sense of, hey, nothing's wrong in the world, we're all safe, everything's going forward. 9/11 was a stark reminder that the world is a dangerous one, it's a tough one, one with real issues and real problems. i don't think that's new for my generation, but that was sort of the time when my generation realized something that previous generations realized for previous events. >> there's a conversation going on as we're having our digitally and on facebook.
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this caught our attention from bryce g. graduating from high school in 2000 "means many of my friends and family have served and continue to serve. this makes us a generation desensitized and accustomed to conflict and war. i have a sick feeling that if a time of peace actually happens again, we will be suspicious of it." a final thought here, joe, it ties together with this notion of being the new greatest generation. what defines your generation that experienced 9/11 and served afterward, as you think about leadership, as you think about national purpose? >> sure. well, i think what's great about america, what is great about any generation is 9/11 was a defining ment, but it's not what defines our generation. i think what's so great about us throughout our history is to be able to encounter an event like 9/11, see what needs to be done, try to overcome it, but then go on with our lives, go on with the business of, you know, of work and play, and you know, everything all together. so, like i said, while it is definitional, i don't think it should define us. >> all right.
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thank you for your service. >> it was my honor, it really was. >> thank you, doris. as we think about 9/11 this morning and next sunday's tenth anniversary, we want to remember those who were lost that horrible day, innocent victims as well as first responders, firefighters, police and others, and we remember to say thank you to the men and women of our volunteer armed forces, like joe, who have fought and died and served multiple deployments in iraq and afghanistan while their families endured their absence back home. one such warrior who defined military leadership in the post-9/11 era took off the uniform this week. general david petraeus, commander of u.s. forces in afghanistan, and before that, se centcom commander and before that, commander of u.s. forces in iraq, retired after 37 years of service in the army, as he prepares to take the helm as director of the central intelligence agency. petraeus changed the army, reengineering how troops are trained and how they engage and fight the enemy. he most notably led the surge in iraq. chairman of the joint chiefs of
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staff, admiral mike mullen, called petraeus not just one of the most important military figures of our time, but of all time. to him and to his wife, holly, we offer our thanks and gratitude. next sunday on 9/11, "meet the press" will not air as normal. instead, i'll be part of our special network coverage along with brian williams, tom brokaw and lester holt. "9/11: america remembers." we'll span the events and critical moments during the morning of 9/11. join us as we look back on that fateful day one decade later. an one other programming note. you can watch the rebroadcast of today's program this afternoon on msnbc at 2:00 p.m. eastern as well as tomorrow morning for early risers at 6:00 a.m. eastern. that is all for today. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." [ man ] i've seen beautiful things.
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